Ginger Baker was an awful, awful man. Throughout the 2012 documentary, Beware of Mr. Baker, the drummer looks back through his life and exhibits an absolutely fascinating unadorned hatred for everything, anything and anyone. Never before has such a pure stream of unabating misanthropy been captured on camera…but what an unbelievable drummer he was though.
Back in 1968, however, he seemed to be a lot more laid back. Not only does he avoid attacking the interviewer, but he actually plays the drums upon request and seems quite happy to do so.
Depending on when this was filmed in ’68 he would either have been playing in Cream at the time or if it fell after the break-up, then he would have been behind the kit for the short-lived super-group spin-off Blind Faith. Regardless of who he was playing for he reaffirms in this short clip why he resides in a rarefied realm of drummers who could not only do it all but do it all absolutely brilliantly.
During the clip, he not only casually demonstrates an exceedingly difficult ‘four stroke ruff’ as well as a slew of other techniques, but he also takes you on a tour of his kit set up, all while smoking a fag that somehow remains perfectly perched on his slack-jawed bottom lip throughout.
As a boy the musician had originally wanted to ride in the Tour de France but he gave up on his dream after his bike got caught up with a taxi. The frantic agitator seemed a much better fit for rock ‘n’ roll anyway (despite claims that he never liked the genre) and in the end, it all seemed fated.
As he once explained: “I was always banging on the desks at school,” he recalled in a BBC interview. “So all the kids kept saying, ‘Go on, go and play the drums’, and I just sat down and I could play. It’s a gift from God. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. And I’ve got it: time. Natural time.”
He was a musician who expanded the vocabulary of rock and on this rare occasion, he was kind enough to willingly share his skills with us.